Councillors' Attendance Statistics
Agenda and minutes
Monday, 23 January 2012 7:00 pm
Venue: Council Chamber - York House. View directions
Contact: Gary Lelliott, 020 8891 7275, Email: email@example.com
To confirm the procedure for the hearing (attached).
The procedures were noted.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members are asked to declare any interests in matters for consideration at the meeting.
Councillor Chappell declared a personal and prejudicial interest by virtue of her previous involvement in opposing the premises both as a resident and councillor.
To hear and determine an opposed application for a new sexual entertainment venue licence and transfer of licence if granted.
Report of the Head of Consumer Protection attached.
Participating in this item were:
Walter Angliss (applicant)
Glenn Nicie (applicant)
Christopher Knight (applicant)
Julia Palmer (solicitor for Mr Nicie and Mr Knight)
PC John McGann (on behalf of the responsible authority)
Daman Grewal (interested party)
Sally Barrett (interested party)
James Barrett (interested party)
Miranda Barrett (interested party)
Reuben Fevrier (interested party)
Sam Silver (interested party)
Cllr Susan Chappell (interested party)
Cllr David Marlow (interested party)
Julia Palmer introduced the application on behalf of her clients. She said that written confirmation from Mr Angliss’ solicitor stating that he would have no interest in the premises after the sale had been obtained.
Mr Angliss, who was present at the hearing, also confirmed this and formally withdrew from the application at 7:10pm before Ms Palmer started her submission on behalf of her clients.
Ms Palmer said that she was aware of the issues being experienced by residents and felt that Mr Nicie and Mr Knight were able to resolve all issues that residents had. She said that her clients ran a number of reputable establishments, some of which were given support by the communities around them. Attention was drawn to the letters contained within the supplementary agenda from various responsible and local authorities where Mr Nicie and Mr Knight operate clubs. It was reported by Ms Palmer that the list of establishments in the supplementary agenda was not accurate and Mr Knight and Mr Nicie had no current interest in “Platinum Lace”.
Mr Nicie confirmed that he purchased “Platinum Lace” in October 2010, with the intention of operating it. He then sold the premises in December 2010, where he ceased to have any interest in it.
A condition was offered by Mr Nicie and Mr Knight whereby they would exclude Mr Angliss from any future involvement in the operation of the Piano Lounge/Playhouse Gentlemen’s Club.
Ms Palmer said that she had read through the objections to the application and she felt that the letters on pages 59, 61, 71, 77, 82, 98, 102, 115, 122, 123 and 134 of the agenda pack were not relevant. She said that this brought the number of objections to 73, out of around 25,000 in the Twickenham district area.
Ms Palmer said that she was not going to address concerns raised about the previous operation of the Piano Lounge as her clients ran reputable businesses; neighbours of her clients’ other businesses had complimented them on running their businesses considerately. She did concede that strong management did seem to be missing from the current operation.
Part of the business plan for the establishment would be rebranding the exterior and seeking a new, wealthier clientele. Part of this would involve closing the club for a period of around three months in order to ‘lose’ the current group of people who visited. It was the applicants’ hope that they would be able to cater for wealthy gentlemen who wanted discrete entry and exit from the club. As part of this, none of the existing staff or dancers would be retained and a staffing to customer ratio of around 1:10 would be maintained, along with various codes of practice for dancers and security staff. Staff would be ‘hand-picked’, particularly the security personnel, in order to keep the standard of service high.
Ms Palmer gave details of the measures that would be in place to ensure peaceful use of the premises. The measures included a roped access way into the entrance, which would keep the highway clear; a departing patrons policy; at least one member of security at the entrance at all times; and agreements with local taxi providers enabling patrons to wait for transport inside the club. Staff would also have a suggested place for parking their vehicles with them being escorted to and from that area. High quality closed circuit television would be installed and a further 52 conditions had been offered. Further conditions would also be considered.
Ms Palmer said that she accepted that the area was approximately 50% residential, but she added that the Cumulative Impact Zone designated the club’s location as the town centre. She therefore felt that it was not an inappropriate site for such a premises as it was already a busy area. The bar area also had limited capacity for seated customers, which meant that there would not be crowds of people coming and going.
Mr Knight and Mr Nicie said that they were willing to restrict the operational hours of the club to mean that it could not open before 9.00pm, except on rugby days.
Following questions from members of the sub-committee to the applicants, the meeting was told that:
· Groups leaving were generally limited to two people, although there were occasional groups of four or five.
· Door staff were trained to manage customers’ behaviour.
· Customers were to remain seated for the duration of dances.
· Drinks at the club were expensive; alcohol sales made around 35% of the profits, which meant that it was not the primary draw for clients.
· It was expected customers would leave the premises steadily throughout the night as opposed to all at once when it was closing.
Following a request by the police, the applicant consented to a further piece of evidence being submitted.
[The meeting adjourned between 7.50pm and 7.57pm in order to enable the applicant to assimilate the content of the additional evidence.]
The evidence centred around a rape investigation at a club that Mr Knight was alleged to have managed. Mr Knight said that he had sold the premises in question in April 2007, after which he was employed in an advisory capacity. Following the incident, Mr Knight said that he was given authority by the new owner to suspend the manager involved and employ new staff. Mr Knight insisted that he was not responsible for managing the staff member involved.
PC John McGann introduced the police’s objection. He believed that Mr Angliss would maintain an interest in the premises after he had been removed from the licence, adding that he felt there was no legal assurance ending his involvement. PC McGann said that he had investigated the Platinum Lace club and in doing so, discovered a number of issues similar to those being experienced at the Piano Lounge. He was also concerned that there was a lot of mention about the demands of clients, but little in the way of addressing resident demands. It was reported that there were a number of incidents at the premises around the closing time of 3.00am. PC McGann also said that there was a contradiction in the applicants’ papers, where they were stating that a premises that had won an award, was suddenly at the centre of a rape investigation.
The Legal Adviser clarified that the hearing was for two purposes: the first being an application for a Sexual Entertainment Venue licence; the second an application to transfer any successfully gained licence to Mr Nicie and Mr Knight.
Susan Chappell said that she was speaking primarily as a resident of Poulett Gardens. Ms Chappell said that the Piano Lounge opened in 2003, following extensive objections from residents in the area, which she felt had not declined in recent years as demonstrated by the number of letters written for each hearing. It was suggested that this would be an entirely new operation, so therefore should be considered as such and not as a premises already in situ. It was not an appropriate operation in an area that she, along with many others, described as primarily residential.
Ms Chappell said that of the shops which were present, this was the only one to remain closed all day, so it was not adding to the vibrancy of the area. She added that the recent suspension of the licence gave an insight into what it would be like for residents should the premises not be operating any more.
Susan Chappell stated that Mr Knight had had an application refused in Camden recently, with both new applicants having had issues with their operations in the past. She raised the appropriateness of the locality, given that there were schools nearby and the Council’s policy stating zero Sexual Entertainment Venues. Ms Chappell said that there was overwhelming support for refusal, with many residents and all local councillors opposing the application, so she asked that the sub-committee refuse the application.
Following questions from members of the sub-committee, Ms Chappell advised the meeting that:
· The club’s opening time was also a cause for concern as children were usually returning to the area after attending afterschool clubs.
· A petition had never been arranged as many felt that it would detract from the fact that a large number of individual letters had been written.
· Shops in the area included a shoe shop, newsagent, dry cleaners and electrical retailer.
The Licensing Team Leader clarified the details of the Sex Establishments Policy.
Reuben Fevrier said that he supported Ms Chappell’s comments. He said the main issue for residents was its location, close to houses and schools. The Sex Establishment Policy was, according to Mr Fevrier, very clear in calling for no Sex Establishments. It was added that public sentiment against the club was such that he did not see how the Council could approve the application, particularly as Mr Fevrier felt that the applicants were not transparent and the police reports alarming. He also raised concerns about the proposed frontage of the premises.
Sam Silver supported the previous speakers’ comments. He stated that he ran the neighbouring optician and as a business owner believed that it was important to encourage businesses that supported the neighbouring premises. Mr Silver said that he did not believe a lap dancing club could do this. Attention was brought to reports that police had been called to the Piano Lounge on many occasions. There were also issues with smokers and cars parking in neighbouring residential streets.
James Barrett said that he and others had been present at Council meetings under similar circumstances in the past. He observed that there was nobody speaking in favour the application, with a number speaking against. Mr Barrett said that a number of the letters from bodies supporting the applicants’ management of establishments were a old.
Miranda Barrett said that she went to school locally and saw the activity around the Piano Lounge every day because she had to walk past it. Afterschool clubs would often finish after the club had opened and because there were a number schools locally, this was not the area for a lap dancing club.
Sally Barrett stated that there were other occasions when Mr Angliss suggested he was selling the Piano Lounge and these had always not been realised. Mrs Barrett said that the only way out of her street was to pass the Piano Lounge, which was often an intimidating place to pass. She added that performers often gathered to tout for custom outside the entrance and occasional leaflets with suggestive photographs could be found discarded on the street. Ms Barrett said that she was concerned about the effect this was having on her children and the users of a nearby supported employment facility (Sunshine Café). Ms Barrett also questioned the applicants’ desire to change their clientele, when they were offering a condition for later openings, except for rugby days.
Daman Grewal said that she had three children all of who asked questions why a single shop in a parade was always closed when they passed during the day. She added that because it was in a parade with establishments such as shoes shops, this conveyed the wrong messages to children about lap dancing clubs.
Councillor Marlow clarified the Piano Lounge’s location as being in Twickenham Riverside ward, with his ward of South Twickenham starting on the opposite side of the street. He refuted the claims made by the clients’ solicitor about it not being a residential area and stated that homes were opposite and above the premises. He said that residents did not want nude entertainment in a residential area which was demonstrated by the number of objections and responses to the Sexual Entertainment Policy consultation.
PC McGann was given the opportunity to make a closing statement, but declined this offer as he felt there was no more to add.
Susan Chappell made a closing statement on behalf of interested parties. She said that the club was introduced under old legislation and when the new management and façade was considered, this would be an entirely new operation. Ms Chappell said that she was alarmed that the applicants did not have definitive information on what premises they were responsible for and had some “convenient” excuses for the incidents the police described. She added that the consultation on the Sexual Entertainment Policy showed 98% of residents were against sexual entertainment venues. Ms Chappell urged the sub-committee to refuse the application now that there was legislation to control this type of establishment.
Julia Palmer provided a closing statement on behalf of the applicants and began by saying that she was alarmed by the police not raising their concerns with the accuracy of the documents before the hearing. Ms Palmer stated that her clients had been transparent with residents and this was demonstrated by their willingness to accept late evidence produced by the police. She informed those present that the consultation on the Sexual Entertainment Policy had a total of 98 responses, not 98% of respondents in opposition and although she accepted that there was strong opposition to sexual entertainment venues, she felt representations had been made on false information. The sub-committee were reminded that they could refuse or approve on mandatory or discretionary grounds. Ms Palmer said that she accepted there was a ‘nil policy’ which believed was against government guidance, but suggested the sub-committee could use its discretionary powers as it had done for a sex shop elsewhere in the borough. The applicants’ solicitor again drew attention to the Cumulative Impact Policy which defined the parade of shops the Piano Lounge was in as part of the town centre. The sub-committee was reminded of the applicants’ offer of a condition limiting the opening hours to 9.00pm, except on rugby days. The capacity of the premises was not being changed and the primary source of income was not alcohol. She concluded by saying that if the licence was granted, Mr Angliss would be relinquishing his interest in the club.
The sub-committee retired to consider the evidence given.
RESOLVED that the application be refused for the following reasons:
“We consider that the relevant locality is an area centred on Cross Deep and Poulett Gardens, south of King Street extending down to the River Thames, and embracing the entirety of Poulett Gardens to the West, and Wharf Lane to the East.
The locality is characterised by residential streets, which include a number of family houses and flats, and by the mix of shops serving the local community - which include a beauty salon, a shoe-shop for both adults and children, a family butcher’s, an optician’s, a newsagent’s, and an electrician’s. There is a doctors’ surgery and a dental practice on the other side of the road, immediately opposite the premises. We do not think that a Sexual Entertainment Venue would be appropriate in a locality of this character.
In addition, premises in the vicinity include two schools, the leisure facilities of Radnor Gardens Park, and the Sunshine Café – which is a community-supported café staffed by people with learning difficulties, some of whom, we were informed, would be vulnerable to exploitation. There is also an adventure playground next to that café. We consider that the grant of a Sexual Entertainment Venue licence for the premises would be inappropriate having regard to these uses.
We have been told that the two schools in Cross Deep may be as far as 500 yards away. There was disagreement about the time it takes to walk to them from the premises. In our view, however, the journeys to and from these schools will, for many pupils, take them up Cross Deep, past the shopping parade, and into the residential streets and beyond. We think that the schools, even at that distance, are part of the fabric of the local community.
A submission was made to us that the proposed hours of opening for the SEV were considerably later than school-hours. It was said that because of those hours, and the discreet frontage of the premises, and the controls over external signage and advertising, no harm could be expected to be done to children in the area, arising from the presence of a ‘For Your Eyes Only’ club. We were far from satisfied that that submission fully addressed the issues arising under paragraph 12(3)(d)(i) & (ii) of Schedule 3. We felt that a real risk of harm to children, if it existed, would be highly material in any determination, and would be likely to lead to a refusal of a licence; but we did not feel that the probable absence of ‘harm’ necessarily equated to ‘appropriateness’.
We have considered Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, as well as Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Convention. We have been referred to the speeches of Lords Hoffman and Neuberger, and Baroness Hale, in the case of Miss Behavin’ limited v Belfast City Council  LGR 127, and do not think that a refusal of an SEV licence in this part of Twickenham is a breach of the applicants’ human rights. Nor do we consider it a breach of Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, or contrary to Regulation 24 of the Provision of Service Regulations 2009: no argument was raised before us that it would be so.”
[The decision letter is appended to these minutes.]